Saskatoon Berry Plants: For Foliage And Berries Saskatoon Berry Plants: For Foliage And Berries
The Saskatoon berry is known for not only its lovely foliage but also its distinctive fruit. Also known as the serviceberry or Juneberry, the native, wild growing Saskatoon berry shrub has been tamed and cultivated for its foliage and the berries.
The Saskatoon berry spreads from Alaska then across most of western Canada. It is also found all over the western and northern central parts of the United States. It is found across a range of elevations, from sea level up to 3,500 meters.
About the Berry Plant and Fruit
The Saskatoon berry is a deiciduous plant that loses its lustrous leaves in the fall and winter. The leaves themselves are round to oval, and grow between 1 to 3 inches long. It blooms beautiful, large white flowers in the early spring. The berry fruit itself is small and purple and grows from about ½ inch to 1 inch in diameter.
The three varieties of the plant grow in three distinct geographical areas. The alnifolia is found in the northeastern range of the country, the pumila is found in the mountains, and the semiintergrifolia is found on the Pacific coast from Alaska to California.
Growing the Saskatoon Berry
Seedlings for the plants can be purchased from specialty nursery stock, or they may be found in the wild if the regulations allow. Plant the individual seedlings in rows separated by about 2.5 to 3 feet. Each plant should have plenty of space to grow and spread out. Rows of the berries should be between four and six feet apart to allow for the plants to spread.
Each bush can last up to thirty fruit bearing years, making them a worthwhile investment. Avoid planting the bushes in clay soil or any soil that doesn’t drain properly, since the bushes will rot in too much standing water. Likewise, bushes should not be planted in a high water table, since this is another chance for them to rot.
The bushes need to be in direct sunlight to have good berries that ripen fully. They can be damaged by frost if the flowers are out before the final frost of the year.
Taste and Use of Berries
While the foliage is used for decorative purposes, these berries taste wonderful and are used in many foods. The native peoples of Canada have eaten the serviceberry for years. They traditionally added it to their pemmican, or dried meat. The berries add flavor and preservative qualities to the pemmican.
The serviceberry is also a popular ingredient in pies and cider, homemade beers, jams, wines, and in trail mix, cereal and snacks.